As more and more stores are adapting to the digital sphere, most retail stores still fail to optimize customer service and shopping experiences with a great mobile app. This is partially due to the reluctance of customers to change the way they shop. Most customers rely on the physical store for everything: returns, exchanges, purchases. Although others use online stores often, they still deal with the same issues time and time again: waiting in line, only wearing purchases once or twice, or keeping something in their cart for too long and ends up going out of stock before they remember to buy it. Even with thousands of shopping apps out there, these problems have yet to be solved.
In this case study, I use Zara as an example to illustrate how although the app succeeds with a few features including the barcode scan and in-store availability, it still has a great deal of room to improve. As of this year, Inditex (parent company of Zara) operates over 7,200 stores in 93 markets worldwide. With billions of customers, it is crucial for Inditex to ensure optimal customer experience in each and every one of these stores.
Most shopping brands are delving into the high-tech sphere. While Rent the Runway is experimenting with VR/AR try-on experiences, Reformation is transforming the typical retail store structure. With touchscreen monitors replacing racks of clothing, customers can scan through outfits and when they find one they like, they choose their size and it will appear in the dressing room. With retail stores looking up to Apple and Tesla for inspiration, there is still much to be done for these stores to succeed in the digital age. As Inditex continues to grow, one of the first steps they can take is to revamp their mobile app to enhance user flow from mobile to store.
Currently, the Zara app mirrors the brand’s simple and minimalist design and its formatting makes it easy for the user to navigate because of the identical format to the Zara website. However, customers still fail to use the app when they decide to shop at the store. A bit counterintuitive, don’t you think?
I decided to conduct UX research in the war zone: the Zara store during its semi-annual sale. I have compiled my findings and have designed, prototyped, and iterated design strategies to enhance the shopping experience at Zara starting from its mobile app. Although there are many ideas on how to improve the Zara app, I have included just a few.
Part 1: Observations + Design Process
I targeted my research on customers that are unfamiliar with the app. Those who have used the app before seemed to know more about the difference between viewing the site through safari and actually downloading the Zara app. Gathering responses from Zara customers and looking at reviews on the app store, I have structured my observations in terms of pain points and strategized re-design ideas.
Part 1: Enticing customers to use the app to shop in stores and online
“I have nothing to wear.”
We’ve all heard this one and a trip to Zara usually follows after this line is said. Most customers splurge on Zara sales and end up wearing whatever they purchased only a couple of times. Although the Zara app does a good job on showing you what to match an outfit with, the options are always limited to one pair of shoe, one shirt, and one bottom. In addition, the photos do not show how the entire outfit is put together.
When buying a shirt, there are always multiple ways of putting an outfit together. Although there exists Polyvore and Instagram that gives you outfit ideas, wouldn’t it be great to see various outfits right from the product page before you buy the item?
Pain points gathered from customers:
- End up buying several desired articles of clothing, but not knowing how to put them together
- Not knowing how to wear a certain piece of clothing in different seasons
- Usually wearing the piece of clothing the same way just with different colors
- Not buying something you like in the store or online because you don’t know where you’d wear it to
- Not buying something in the store or online because you think it won’t fit your body type
- Outfits ideas for different seasons.
- Outfit ideas for different occassions.
- Allow users to save outfit ideas to their wishlist.
- Add the option to see how many people like the outfit
- Add to wishlist functionality — where customers can add an entire outfit to their wishlist or preferred items
Design: Using “Blouse with Double Ruffle” for demonstration purposes
I designed a new product page for Zara that is organized into different sections. The last section is the “How to Wear” section, where outfit ideas are categorized into occasion type and season. There are many ways to expand on this feature — including the option to have customers add their own outfit ideas, share the outfits with friends/family, or add reviews on how well the outfit went together.
Part 2: Ensuring customers come back to the store
“Sorry, that item is out of stock in your size”
We’ve all definitely heard this too. One of the worst pain points is falling in love with something online or in stores and then realizing that it is out of stock. One of the biggest complaints that I gathered from customers is the lack of help from shopping apps once an item goes out of stock in their size. One young woman said, “I don’t want to press a button to notify me once it’s back in stock, I want that to happen automatically.”
I am a huge fan of Zara’s barcode feature where you can scan an item to find your size in the store, but the app can go even further. There are two strategies here: 1) Show similar options for the item you desire that is out of stock once you scan it, and 2) Enable a “wishlist” feature.
One essential feature the Zara app is missing is a wishlist. Almost every retail store has an online wishlist so customers can not only favorite items they like and buy them later, but also keep track on whether they go out of stock. This keeps customers happy and will entice them to come back to the store because of the notifications. I added the user flow for the two strategies.
- When you see that an item is out of stock, you are not redirected to anything. There are no options to relieve your disappointment!
- Browsing seems so useless since Zara’s app does not allow you to filter by your size. You spend time looking through items that are most likely out of your size
- You can’t request to be notified when something goes back in stock through the app
- You don’t have a list of things that are out of stock that you can keep track of
- Wishlist feature that enables you to add outfits from “How to Wear” section
- Wishlist feature that automatically notifies customers something is back in stock
- Scan the item using the barcode and if it’s out of stock, display a list of similar items to choose from or add it to wishlist
Design Part 1:
Design Part 2:
This user flow would happen after a customer scans his/her item using the app. In this case, the item is out of stock. This is to show what would happen when the user is presented with similar items.
There are of course features that are more of a priority than others for both the corporation and the customer. Based on customers and reviews, here is what I found:
Part one and part two entail issues that most customers face when it comes to deciding whether or not to use a mobile shopping app. In the case of Zara, most customers found it helpful to have features such as a wishlist that notifies you of your out of stock item and a “how to wear” section. Being that shopping is already a frustrating experience, a simple mobile app should only improve the trip to the store. Although there are many things to improve in regards to shopping apps in general and in particular the Zara app, a couple of features included in this case study would increase the number of users downloading the app.